Gender, Disaster and Stories from Popoki: Learning from Women Survivors in Northeast Japan


Alexander, Ronni. 2019. "Gender, Disaster and Stories from Popoki: Learning from Women Survivors in Northeast Japan." Journal of International Cooperation Studies 26 (2): 17-37.

Author: Ronni Alexander


This paper critically explores the question of gender and disaster, suggesting that much of the current thinking and practice serves to reproduce understandings of gender rather than transform them. The first half of the paper looks at issues of gender and disaster, providing a short introduction to some of the issues involved followed by a discussion of the meaning of gender and resilience in the context of peace. The second half introduces the stories of four women who experienced the Great Northeast Japan Earthquake. These stories were compiled through interviews and conversations occurring between 2011 and 2018 in the context of the Popoki Friendship Story Project, a support project organized shortly after the 2011 disaster. The stories illustrate women’s involvement with community after disaster and speak to the range of women’s responses and challenges. While in some ways they can be said to have been empowered, their stories suggest that they do not necessarily want empowerment, and that inclusion does not necessarily lead to transformation. The paper concludes with a reflection on theory and practice, stressing the importance of gender equity and equality as a prerequisite to transformative practices in disaster support. Working to foster peace before crises occur is therefore important for making societies more resilient and for greater inclusion and diversity during and after disaster.

Topics: Environment, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Gender Equity Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: Japan

Year: 2019

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